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Take 61: Survival Kit

I have endless memories of my mother trying to find things in her handbag. And I gather more memories every day.

I’ve begun to think of her as only having 1.5 arms. Because most of the time, half of one arm is deep inside her handbag, rummaging around.

She really loves those big bags. You know; the ones big enough to carry a small house in.

And I’m not surprised! She carries everything in there!

She has all the items in my survival kit and more. Much more. If there is one lipstick in there, there are twenty. But can she find lipstick when she needs it? Not a chance. In goes the half arm, never to return again.

And if she is driving, it’s my task to sink my hand into the depths of chaos. When I get it back, it’s sticky, a bit pink from lid-free lipstick, and covered in crumbs from old biscuits that fell apart.

So that’s why all my handbag items (aside from phone, purse, and keys), are tucked away in a little pretty bag that I move between handbags.


I have to admit, I’m proud of my survival kit.

I always feel a rush of pleasure when someone shouts across the room: “Does anyone have a _________ (insert anything) I can borrow?”

And I can shout back, “I do!”

Or when someone comes up and says: “Hi, you don’t know me, but I’ve heard you might have a tampon in your bag”

“Absolutely, you’ve come to the right place.”

People are always amazed at the volume and variety of things I have in there. And they ask me how it all started.

And I realise. It started with my mother! Not just because her handbag was the essence of chaos and I am on a quest to find order. But because not a day went by in my whole childhood when she didn’t have exactly what I needed.

In fact, having spent more time with her recently, I’ve learned a few more tricks:

  • Salt and pepper sachets for on-the-go lunches
  • A little plastic spork (a fork and spoon in one)
  • Clear nail polish to deal with snags in your tights
  • Glasses wipes – also great for mobile phone glass
  • A little compact mirror – why didn’t I think of that?

So, I guess that’s why I feel so proud when people say: “Wow, you’re so prepared!” – because I learned it from my mother.

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